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What says..

Small, but, in many ways perfectly formed. The whole place feels loved and cared for, no tatty areas to be seen. Attention to detail is important here – they care, and it shows. According to the children, ‘the teachers here find really fun ways to drill subjects into your head.’ We might struggle a little with the word ‘drill’ but they are all smiles as they say it and we know what they mean. The hillside location means there are limitations – no car park or playing fields on site. However, weight that against spacious grounds...

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What the school says...

At Moorfield we achieve the rare balance between academic rigour and creating a fun, friendly and caring environment where boys and girls can thrive. Pupils are nurtured as individuals and develop the personal confidence to be successful. All pupils proceed to their first choice of senior school.
Set at the foot of Ilkley moor, we make good use of our beautiful location whilst also having the benefit of being an easy walk from the centre of town.
Outstanding teaching from a vibrant and committed staff goes hand in hand with a broad and rich curriculum including exceptional music, plenty of sport, cookery and outdoor learning.
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What The Good Schools Guide says

Acting Head

Since September 2019, Tina Herbert PGCE (40s). Having previously clocked up 10 years at the school as a form teacher, NQT mentor, assistant head and - for the last two years - deputy head, she was already very much part of the furniture. Prior to that, she spent 20 years in state education, starting in Bristol where she did her PGCE and met her husband and where her two daughters were born. Later positions included teaching in Bradford, North Leeds and Skipton, where she was responsible for inspections of church primary schools. Her BA, which she did at York, is in English and theology.

Originally hailing from Yorkshire, it’s perhaps no surprise that her interests include walking on the moors and dales, the only requisite being a tea shop somewhere along the way. She also enjoys watching most sports, especially football (she is a Liverpool FC fan), but claims to be ‘pretty useless at taking part’ in sports herself.

Entrance

Twenty children per year group. Most join from nursery and there’s a steady dribble into classes most years if space allows. Girl-heavy throughout, but numbers of boys are increasing each year as the youngest work their way through the school.

Children of all abilities accepted, on the premise that the needs of current pupils are not compromised in any way; ability/needs are assessed informally on a taster day. Some year groups are full (numbers are on the up) but space in other years so do check. Annual open day, but school is open to visitors most days by appointment.

Exit

Most popular destinations are Ilkley Grammar and Harrogate Ladies, also Skipton Girls' High and Bradford Grammar. All are sought-after schools and competition is rife, so parents are well advised and children well prepared, helping to ease the transition into their first choice schools.

Our view

Small, but, in many ways perfectly formed. Housed in Wharfedale Lodge, an imposing Yorkshire stone villa with newer additions, including a purpose-built nursery and hall/gym. Classrooms are bright, sunny and spacious, with plenty of impressive work on display. The whole place feels loved and cared for, no tatty areas to be seen. Attention to detail is important here – they care, and it shows.

The school sits in a prime residential street, nestled in the lea of Ilkley Moor. The hillside location means there are limitations – no car park or playing fields on site. However, weigh that up against spacious grounds fashioned by nature with craggy woods, shady dells, dens and a stream – something other schools attempt to recreate by paying a fortune to landscape gardeners.

The school uses every inch of the available space – safe playground with hard and soft areas, a hard court and new Astro for ball games; forest school happens for real here and the grounds are child heaven, with so much to explore.

Small classes, learning support as required. French from nursery, German from year 3 and a smattering of Russian in year 6; subject specialist teaching at the top of the school. No lack of rigour – they take preparation for senior school seriously and will happily talk to you about their assessment criteria.

According to the children, ‘the teachers here find really fun ways to drill subjects into your head.’ We might struggle a little with the word ‘drill’ but they are all smiles as they say it and we know what they mean. Parents say there are ‘young, inspiring teachers’ who ‘put soul into the place.’ Teachers clearly have energy too – they end the day with a seven-minute workout (‘don’t tell the children, they may want to watch’). Plenty of IT throughout; staff know their way around interactive whiteboards and use them well. Old school skills such as cooking, masterfully led by the former head of Bettys Cookery School.

Well-stocked library; they are big on reading here, with special rosettes awarded for reading the classics (with or without the help of parents). Specialist music rooms in the refurbished basement. All sing and the majority play an instrument, many more than one.

School makes use of good local facilities for team sports and swimming, as well as running on the moor and around the local tarn, and competitive matches against local schools. Apparently ‘it’s still good for your personal development if you lose,’ say the pupils. Crikey. Add to that a spelling bee and a wealth of musical opportunities and there are no excuses for not sleeping well at night. Achieving a rare third green flag as an eco school was much celebrated; there is a vitality here that is both healthy and engaging.

Plenty of ‘specials’ – climate week, poetry, art, music and drama competitions, fundraising for local charities and more besides. Year 6 pupils end their time at the school with a winter banquet – dress code is ‘more dash than cash’ so that it doesn’t become a fashion show. Otherwise it’s a candlelit dinner, with formal invitations (delightfully penned thank you letters follow), the best china and silverware, all at the head’s home. It’s one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year, and not just for the grand finale that is the chocolate fountain.

Pupils look cheery in practical red and green uniforms, blazers and jumpers for most, sweatshirts for little ones. The time-honoured school hats and caps remain at parents’ insistence (admittedly cute around town), but it’s more to do with sentimental value than denying the myth that is Ilkley Moor bar t’at (translation available if required).

Food is ‘great,’ say the pupils, notably Mrs Glover’s legendary chocolate square, which (they are quick to add) is balanced by a healthy fruit feast on other days. Food is locally sourced and cooked in-house; parents receive menu options on weekly newsletters.

Parents treasure the ‘family environment’ and appreciate the accommodating flexibility. Not essential to pre-book before and after-school care. Just a phone call needed – invaluable when you are stuck in traffic. Usual to see older girls looking after the little ones at playtime – it’s a small school and they know (and will play with) everyone, regardless of age. New pupils are made welcome throughout and parents meet and greet others with coffee and croissant mornings.

The amusingly titled ‘boy time’ happens on Friday afternoon when the boys head off for rugby, football, cricket or golf. Boys are still very much in the minority but they are well catered for and are a happy and much-valued part of the school. Pupils are unfailingly polite and discipline is obvious, without childlike enthusiasm being suppressed.

Ilkley is a small market town with, probably, too many schools as well as an abundance of teashops and antique dealers, yet all are thriving and appear recession-proof. Serious money here and they are a well-heeled bunch, though admittedly the heels are more Hunter (possibly Aigle) than Louboutin. But somehow the locals are all the more likeable for that. The upshot is plenty of choice for your children and a great lifestyle for parents who may well choose to work in Leeds but live here. ‘You pays your money (or not) and you takes your choice,’ as they say around here, but make sure you don’t miss Moorfield when you are doing the rounds.

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